The major cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, including solariums. The levels of UV radiation emitted from solariums can be up to six times as strong as the midday summer sun.
Research shows that people who use a solarium before the age of 35 have a 59% greater risk of melanoma than those who do not use solariums.
There is no such thing as a safe tan – whether from the sun or a solarium. Tanning is a sign your skin cells are in trauma and the more that your skin is overexposed to UV radiation, the greater your risk of skin cancer.
If you must have a tan, then use fake tan, but remember that sun protection is still required.
Skin cancers linked to solarium use
In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer re-classified solariums as a Group 1 carcinogen – in the same category as tobacco and asbestos.
Research published in 2008 found that 281 melanomas, 43 deaths, and 2,572 squamous cell carcinomas were attributable to solarium use in Australia each year, at a cost to the health system of around $3 million.
It is illegal to operate commercial solarium units in Victoria as of 1 January 2015.
This ban is the result of almost a decade of ongoing campaigning led by Cancer Councils across Australia, and our partners. The result of this work is that many Victorians will be saved from the devastating effects that skin cancer has on patients and their families.
Commercial solarium operators are also banned in New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland. Western Australia has committed to a ban, although the date is yet to be announced. There are no commercial solariums operating in the Northern Territory.
'No tan is worth dying for': Clare Oliver
In August 2007, a young Melbourne woman brought the issue of solariums to the attention of many Australians. Battling end-stage melanoma, Clare Oliver had only weeks to live, yet she decided to use her remaining time and energy to make certain other people understood the dangers of solarium use.
In the final weeks of her life, Clare's story received significant public and media attention, and, more importantly, she achieved major change. In Victoria, then State Health Minister Daniel Andrews announced that the solarium industry would be regulated. This led to the introduction of similar legislation in other states across Australia.
Following the overwhelming public response to Clare's story, an advertisement was recreated using footage from ABC and Nine Network. The ad's main message is ‘no tan is worth dying for'. In Clare's own words, ‘choose life, choose to be fair'.
The advertisement was launched in February 2008 and distributed to television networks nationally as a Community Service Announcement.